In Morocco, the term “salad” does not equate to mixed greens tossed in a dressing as frequently seen in the United States or Europe. Instead, salads are little appetizer plates of spiced or sweetened, cooked or raw, vegetables served prior to the main course. They tend to be quite tantalizing and refreshing and often have contrasting flavors. One of my favorite Moroccan salads is Zalouk, a combination of eggplant and tomatoes spiced with cumin and paprika. It is cooked down to a pureé and enjoyed as a spread on a flatbread.
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large eggplant (about 1.5-2 lbs.), peeled and chopped into ¼ inch cubes
3 garlic cloves, pressed
3 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 ½ teaspoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the eggplant and sauté for about three minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another two minutes. Add the tomatoes and reduce the heat. Add the paprika, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. As the eggplant and tomatoes softened, use the back of a spoon or a potato masher to crush and blend them together. Remove from the heat and add the white wine vinegar and sprinkle with parsley. Serve warm or chilled.